Jumah al-Dossari was sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by U.S. military forces in January 2002 after being arrested in Pakistan in late 2001. Al-Dossari’s Amnesty International case sheet alleges that al-Dossari was regularly beaten, threatened with rape and chained during interrogations.
He was wrapped in U.S. and Israeli flags and asked his views on U.S.-Israeli policy. He also claims in the same interview that the interrogator threw a copy of the Quran on the floor and urinated on it.
According to the Amnesty International case study, an FBI agent mentioned seeing a man wrapped in an Israeli flag. Other detainees have corroborated with al-Dossari’s claims.
Speaking in Panama on Nov. 7, President George W. Bush said, “Our government has an obligation to protect the American people. Any activity we conduct is within the law. We do not torture.”
Bush was responding to the White House’s opposition to a torture-banning bill proposed by Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), which passed 90-9. Vice President Dick Cheney is lobbying Congress to make an exception for prisoners being held by the CIA, according to an article on www.cnn.com.
As of March 12, 2005, there were approximately 540 detainees in Guantanamo Bay, according to the Department of Defense
A Nov. 2, 2005, Washington Post article reported on secret CIA prisons in Europe where captives were being held and questioned.
When one considers secret CIA prisons, 540 detainees and a White House that wants to exempt the CIA from a bill banning torture, it doesn’t take a sharp political mind to add it all up.
CIA exemption is a ridiculous policy and the blanket terms “national defense” and “counterterrorism” are so incredibly widespread that it nulls the ban entirely.
The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The amendment was violated when the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison surfaced.
That amendment is violated every time someone comes forward with their stories of detainment. It’s starting to become clear that if the United States doesn’t torture, they at least do not conduct activity within the law.
McCain supports the war in Iraq and has always put American safety at the forefront of his political life. McCain also remembers being tortured by the Vietcong and understands that there is no justification for torture.
McCain wrote in the actual bill: “To fight terrorism, we need intelligence. That much is obvious. What should also be obvious is that the intelligence we collect must be reliable and acquired humanely, under clear standards understood by all our fighting men and women.”
He adds, “To do differently would not only offend our values as Americans but undermine our war effort, because abuse of prisoners harms, not helps, in the war on terror.”
Al-Dossari’s are certainly not the only accusations of torture to come from former Guantanamo Bay detainees. One would find noticeable scars and other signs of cruelty on almost any detainee.
The Bush administration needs to understand that in order to catch criminals and terrorists, we cannot become criminals and terrorists ourselves.
Carolyn Steeves can be reached at email@example.com.